Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Beauty of Darkness

We are counting down to the longest night of the year, the shortest day, the time when our ancestors feared the light might disappear altogether as daily the sky darkened earlier and earlier. Although in our modern times, this is one of our most frenetic seasons filled with holiday parties, bright lights, frenzied shopping and crazy drivers (umm, sorry), in the ancient days this was a time of stillness, of gathering quietly together, of building a fire as big as we dared to ward off the darkness and fight comfort in the warmth and light reflected off the faces of our community as we told stories of surviving the darkness in years past.

One thing that remains the same is that we humans tend to want to ward off the darkness. Then it was with a fire, now it is with all those parties and shopping expeditions I just mentioned. And we do this not only in the long nights of winter, but throughout the year. We have night lights, and bright inside lights– some even scheduled to automatically turn on at dusk, even if we’re not home; we have a multitude of blue and green and red lights blinking on all of our electronics, we ward off insomnia by watching the Late Show on television. We have flashlights and candles at the ready, all to ward off the darkness that we have been wired to fear.

Danger, we believe, lurks there, in the darkness, where there is just enough ambient light for us to see shadows menacingly crouched, ready to pounce.

And we have learned to do the same in our own, interior world. We fear the darkness, the shadows of our lives, we don’t want to be still and sit in the silent night of our fears, and terrors, our shame and regrets, our ugliness that is as much a part of our human birthright as is our opposable thumbs and our ability to draw meaning from life. We would do almost anything to not have to spend time in the darkness of our souls.

But the shadows in our world, those moments we’re not proud of, those memories we fear because they bring a grief so overwhelming it might consume us, might eclipse forever the light of our days; those dark thoughts of despair we’ve had, those times when we failed ourselves, all of those are equally a part of who we are as the medal we’ve won, the promotions we’ve received, the love we have shared. And it is only when we can learn to love the beauty of the darkness that we can be fully alive and centered in our light.

This Sunday at All Souls, as we sit on the precipice of darkness, with the longest night of the year beckoning, the choir will be performing our winter cantata called "The Beauty of Darkness." In it, we will explore through song and word, how we can find the beauty, the gifts, the lessons that await us in our darkness, how we can discover the darkness is nothing to be feared by rather to be embraced. I hope you will join us for this special service. And also, don’t forget the Solstice Party which will be this Saturday, from 6-10 at All Souls where we will celebrate with food and drink, and music and rituals, the returning again of the Sun.

Happy Holidays

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